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From Reports to Tweets: Week of 7/4 News Roundup

The week started off with one of our national holidays, as we celebrated our Independence on July 4th. This holiday is both filled with a lot of history and celebrated each year with fireworks and events throughout the country.

As we reflected on our 225 years of independence, we also look towards the pending and/or newfound independence of other countries. Following in the footsteps of a variety of countries around the world that declared their own independence, comes a new addition. Southern Sudan will officially declare and celebrate it’s independence tomorrow, July 9th.

In between our Independence Day and the independence of Southern Sudan, a lot has and continues to happen. Two major reports were released this week focusing on key goals/priorities of the United Nations. UN Women released a report this week titled: “Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice”.

This report discussed the progress of women’s rights and gender equality around the world. The UN also released a report this week, “MDG Report 2011” analyzing the progress being made toward the MDG Goals for 2015. There has been a lot of progress specifically related to poverty through these goals, but there is still a lot to be done to make the 2015 deadline, including more support of equality of all genders and ages and helping those in need throughout the world.

For our technology-savvy future leaders, our leaders starting from tomorrow to 2015 and beyond, this week brought about a lot of opportunity. Twitter had a “Townhall @ The White House” which featured President Obama answering a variety of questions that were “tweeted” by the public. Next, came Facebook‘s “Open for Questions: Youth and International Development”, featuring USAID‘s Administrator Dr. Raj Shah discussing how the youth specifically can get involvement in international development.

With technology the way of the future, this week also brought about the development of an agreement between The United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and Asian standards developers that will allow the opportunity for technology to be developed quicker and at a lower cost.

With this in mind, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also opened a new United Nations information and telecommunications facility in Valenica, Spain with hopes that this facility will increase communications and the services of The United Nations around the world.

Stay posted to see what impact technology will continue to have and how we can continue to advance the rights of women, as well as democracy for all peoples.


Sullied Water

On these warm and humid summer days, we take for granted how easy it is to turn on a faucet and quench our thirst in seconds—and not have to worry about any undesirable effects later. In many countries in the world, this is not a given.The UN General Assembly declared on July 28th 2010 that access to safe and clean drinking water is a human right—one that is unavailable to almost 900 million people in the world.

Lack of clean water and sanitation burdens people of all shapes, colors, and sizes. It is especially detrimental to the youth of this world. Studies have shown that about 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year due to diarrhea caused by unsafe water. An estimated 443 million school days are lost to water and sanitation-related diseases.

Many children every day attend schools that cannot offer them clean water to drink or even hygienic latrine facilities. Each school day that is lost carries with it abandoned knowledge and wasted creativity. Further down the line, this will mean a failure to strengthen the workforce of a nation and ultimately will lead to less economic success in these already struggling countries. The gap between the developing and the industrialized world will only continue to expand.

A UN report from late April of this year showed a small amount of funding for water and sanitation could lower health-care costs, raise school attendance, and significantly improve productivity—facts that are not surprising but can be a real difficulty in achieving for many countries.

According to this report, the access of clean drinking water and sanitized conditions can increase a person’s overall economic wealth from $3 to $34 per every dollar invested. This would ultimately increase a country’s GDP by 2-7%. Cleaner conditions create easier access to education that eventually boosts the economic and general well-being of a country.